MIKE BURKE

Allegany Radio Corporation Sports

The Baltimore Ravens opened their season with a 25-9 win over the Houston Texans in front of a loud and boisterous sellout crowd at M&T Bank Stadium. The Orioles were in Boston and in the process of losing their three-game series-finale to the Red Sox (hey, can’t win ‘em all), but Baltimore was in a festive mood. Then the Ravens game began.

With quarterback Lamar Jackson locked up for the next five years, a rejuvenated wide receiving corps and a faster, more diverse offense created by new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, the Ravens were ready to show their new goods to the world. Yet from the beginning, the offense was sloppy, lethargic and unfamiliar with itself, in large part because very few of the starters had played in the preseason.

The Ravens, and most teams for that matter, don’t play their starters in the preseason for the most part to avoid losing key starters in meaningless games, although I always wondered what difference it made if a team lost a starter in a meaningful game. Does that make it worth it? In the immortal words of Jacob McCandles, “Not hardly.”

Anyway, the Ravens have developed an unfortunate habit through the past several years of losing key starters, most notably offensive linemen and running backs, early in the season, and on Sunday the Ravens’ fortunes held true.

So while Sunday’s opener was a victory, and while AFC North foes Pittsburgh (more on them in a bit) and Cincinnati were both in the process of losing, it was pretty much a downer crowd that filed out of M&T on Sunday, as the Ravens, who were already without cornerback Marlon Humphrey and tight end Mark Andrews before the game even started, proceeded to lose safety Marcus Williams, center Tyler Linderbaum, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, for whom season-opener injuries are a tradition, and running back J.K. Dobbins, who will miss the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles tendon.

For those scoring at home, that adds up to a first-round pick last year (Linderbaum), the team’s top pass-catcher (Andrews), top running back (Dobbins), top offensive lineman (Stanley) and its two highest-paid defensive backs (Humphrey and Williams).

Next up, the Cincinnati Bengals. Can’t wait.

Elsewhere two hours from here, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost their opener, 30-7, to the San Francisco 49ers, which likely says more about the 49ers than it does the Steelers. Many of us here wouldn’t know since we didn’t see the game, as $300 a month to the cable provider isn’t enough to see the Steelers play most weeks, but, sadly, many of us continue to pay for it, so it is what it is.

That said, having listened to the Steelers post-game show on the radio on the way home from the Mensa meeting, it never continues to astound me and disappoint me to hear Steelers fans continue to blast head coach Mike Tomlin and blame him for each and every Steelers loss. Again, didn’t see the game, but it doesn’t take much to figure why certain (not all) factions of Steelers fans blame him when the Steelers don’t win the Super Bowl every week.

Tomlin doesn’t need a Ravens fan taking up for him, but he hasn’t coached a team that has had a losing record in the 17 years he’s been the head coach of the Steelers. You know how impossible that is to do in this day and age of #NFLTheTVShow?

This side of Chuck Noll, Mike Tomlin is the best coach the Steelers have ever had. And, yes, that means you know who, who Steelers fans also wanted to run out of town until he finally got to a Super Bowl, then won one.

Short, convenient and selfish memories …

As for the Washington Commanders, they opened the season with a 20-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Between going back and forth with the Ravens and the Orioles, I saw very little of the actual game, but was able to see quite a bit of the pregame stuff, and the hoopla and the enthusiasm have returned for this franchise, because, yes, ding-dong, the witch is dead.

The new Commanders ownership, headed by Josh Harris, has put over $40 million into the scrubbing and polishing of fan-unfriendly FedEx Field to make it fan-friendly for the first time in a quarter of a century, and have encouraged and welcomed back the fans with wide open arms. And making things better, it’s always a good thing to open the season with a win at home.

Even when you lose four more starters in the process and your first-place baseball team loses a game in the standings.

That said, on a positive note, I did get to see the last 45 minutes of “Rear Window,” my favorite Hitchcock movie and one of the greatest movies of all-time.

Grace Kelly will always be as beautiful and as charming as ever.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT